The past few months have seen the market debut of two crucial new cars in the mid-sized cars segment, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The new models come with the usual language about “reinventing the segment” (don’t they all?), but in this case the rhetoric is at least partially correct, in that both carmakers seem to have pulled out all the stops [Read more…]
Archives for December 2017
Buick has been GM’s volume brand in China for decades as it enjoyed huge popularity with the masses, its image boosted by the last emperor, who owned two of them. Buick still sells over a million cars a year in the People’s Republic, over 5 times as many as its sells at home in the United States, but its time as the best selling General Motors brand in China may soon be over. In November for the very first time ever, sales of GM’s low-cost Baojun brand, from its SGMW Joint Venture with Chinese auto giants SAIC and Wuling, outsold Buick as its sales jumped more than 40% to nearly 128.500 units. Buick sales were up 2,1% to just [Read more…]
As explained before, I haven’t had the time last month to write all the segment analyses for the third quarter in Europe, and I initially thought it would be too late in December to still be relevant. But after many requests from our faithful readers, I decided to put a few days of work into it anyway. It won’t be until early February that you’ll get the Full Year 2017 reports, and there have been a few interesting developments and noteworthy newcomers in some segments.
So for those of you still interested, you can find them by using the “Europe sales” menu in the top of the page, or click the links below. Enjoy, and happy holidays!
The domestic passenger car market in China edges up by 0,8% in November 2017, to just over 2.55 million sales, the highest volume of the year so far. With such a slow growth rate and a December ahead of us which showed booming growth rate last year, it will be difficult for the Chinese car market to reach its expected 5% growth rate in 2017. Year-to-date sales for the first 11 months are up 3,07% to 21,64 million and we expect the market to be stable again in December, which would give us a total of 24,24 million sales in 2017, up just 2,7% on 2016 and the slowest growth rate in modern history, down from 17,2% last year. At least we can be almost sure the market will show another record year as sales would have to be downby 25% in December for a full-year decline (or down to its 2015 level, which hasn’t happened a single time so far this year). Last December, consumers were rushing to buy new vehicles before the sales tax increase on vehicles with engine sizes of 1.6 liters and below rose from 5% to 7,5% on January 1st, 2017. A similar effect will be noticeable this year, as the tax will increase to 10% on January 1st, 2018.
Back to November: the only segment to show growth was that of crossovers and SUVs again, which were up by 10% to nearly 1,1 million sales (YTD up 14%), while sedans were down 3,8% to 1.23 million sales (YTD down 1,4%) and MPVs took the biggest hit at -10,3% to 227.000 sales (YTD down 12,5%). Within those sales figures, sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids (New Energy Vehicles) jumped 83% to 119.000, or 4,7% of the market. Full EVs took the grunt of those sales, rising 75% to 102.000 while PHEVs gained 154% to 17.000 sales. For the first 11 months, EV and plug-in hybrid sales rose 51% to almost 609.000 units, or 2,8% of the total market. The Beijing government has set a target of 6,7% in 2020 and as much as 20% by 2025, helped by a carbon credit scheme that was originally planned to be imposed in 2018 but which has been postponed to 2019. This year, total sales of New Energy Vehicles are expected to top 700.000. [Read more…]
The new Subaru Ascent may well be one of the most overlooked debuts from the LA Auto show at the end of November. The reason for this is not hard to find – to many people it is yet another predictable entry into the mid-sized SUV segment, which predictably looks like an inflated Subaru Forester or Outback, with little of the flourish of the Viziv-7 concept that preceded it remaining. But is it right to dismiss the new Subaru as another also-ran?
After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for November, let’s zoom in on the models ranking.
November saw some unexpected sales surges in the Top 10. While nothing exciting happened in the Top 3, five of the remaining seven models registered growth rates of over 20%! Of these the sales growth experienced by the new Toyota Camry is fully expected, as the new more exciting model seems to be getting early purchase with customers, while the new Honda CR-V is once again seeing good sales growth. The bigger surprises came from market stalwarts such as Nissan Rogue, whose sales were up by over 35% and which came within 1,000 units of outselling Ram Pickup in third, as well as Honda Civic and Ford Explorer, the latter of which placed in the Top 10 for the first time ever! (In fact, it may be the first time a Mid-sized SUV has placed in the Top 10, a place normally occupied by Large Pickups, Compact and Mid-sized cars, and Compact SUVs. By comparison, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape had a quiet month in eight and ninth place.
The first generation Mercedes-Benz CLS was launched in late 2004 and stood out with revolutionary styling for a brand that had mostly been very conservative in the design department until that time. It had simple and elegant lines, and especially the character line running from the front wheel arches to the rear lights was a great touch. However, in my opinion it hasn’t aged very well. If I see one on the road nowadays, it looks a lot older than the 7-13 years it currently is. The strange shape of the headlights is mostly due to that, but also the fact that those headlights seem to fade a bit over the years. Perhaps it also doesn’t help that some (second or third) owners have made customized “improvements” to their cars, including oversized wheels. The second generation, launched in 2011, fixed the weird headlight shape but also lost its simple and elegant design. In line with the Mercedes-Benz styling of this period, it had expressive lines on its sides and pronounced rear wheel arches. The latter actually work quite well on the CLS, simply because it was more coherent with the rest of the car, as opposed to the the E-Class, where they were ditched during that model’s facelift. The addition of the Shooting Brake version gave the 2nd generation CLS another boost in positioning the CLS as the odd one out in the Mercedes-Benz line-up. The proportions of both the CLS coupe and the Shooting Brake worked much better than those of the smaller CLA versions.
The see-sawing we have observed in the US market in the past few months continued in November, with a sales increase of 1.4%. This follows a decline in October, growth in September, and eight straight months of decline before that. As a result of the larger decline in sales earlier in the year the market is still down 1.2% YTD, but this still looks much better than the position it was just four months ago in July, when it was down 2.6% YTD. It is still much too early to talk about a recovery per se, but the signs are the worst decline has been halted for now.
After looking at the October 2017 car brand sales in Europe, let’s take a closer look at individual model sales figures. For the last two months we’ve had a newcomer to the podium, with the Skoda Octavia scoring a best-ever 3rd place in August followed by the Nissan Qashqai jumping to a surprise 2nd place in September, and in October we welcome back the Peugeot 208 on the podium for the first time since May 2013, marking only the 5th time the 208 scores this high. For comparison: its predecessor 207 finished on top of the ranking in 2007 and in 2nd place a year later. The 208 is not far behind its rival Renault Clio and outsells all other subcompact cars this month. Not to discount its performance as sales are up 14,5%, but it also benefits from unusual circumstances at some of its rivals with both the Ford Fiesta (still down 10,4% but back up to #4 now that deliveries of the new generation are picking up traction) and the Volkswagen Polo (-41% to #22) hampered by their generation changes and the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (-18,3% to #15) hurt by a reduction in fleet deliveries by the brand’s new owner PSA, as well by a decline in overall UK volume. The two French subcompacts trail the market leader Volkswagen Golf which is impressively up by 24%, its fourth straight month of growth (and its second with double digits) after a 14-month losing streak. An impressive rebound considering its facelift has been only minor in terms of cosmetics and the VW Group has added a number of crossovers to its line-up that are expected to cannibalize sales from the regular hatchbacks and station wagons.
European sales of passenger cars returned to growth in October 2017 after a one-month decline in September. 1,2 Million new cars were registered in Europe, which leads to a 10-month figure of 13,1 million, an increase of 3,5% on the same period last year and more than the 2014 full year figure. That means 2017 is very likely going to be the fourth consecutive year of growth after hitting a low of 12,3 million sales in 2013. Sales of regular cars (hatchbacks, station wagons, sedans, coupes and convertibles) are up by 0,5% (YTD: -0,5%), while MPV sales are down by 5,5% (YTD: -11%) and sales of crossovers and SUVs are booming just like in the US and China: up 19,8% (YTD: +16,7%).
Among the five biggest markets Spain, France (both +13,7%) and Italy (+7,1%) outgrow the European market while Germany (+3,9%) trails and the United Kingdom continues to struggle with another double digit loss (-12,2%). Besides the UK, only Ireland (-13,8%) and Finland (-4,6%) lose volume in October, while Bulgaria (+41,3%), Lithuania (+33%) and Hungary (+30,4%) show impressive growth rates. Year-to-date, Italy (+8,9%) and Spain (+7,3%) are the fastest growing among the five largest markets, followed by France (+4,8%) and Germany (+2,3%). In contrast, UK sales are down by 4,6% so far in 2017.